Port drivers in Long Beach, Calif., may receive some added protection. On Tuesday, the Long Beach City Council unanimously approved Mayor Robert Garcia’s recommendations to turn on the heat on trucking companies that continue to break labor laws.
Garcia asked the city council on Tuesday to approve three recommendations that will ensure trucking companies at the city’s port are treating their drivers within the confines of established law.
These are the recommendations, according to the city council’s agenda:
- Add language to state and federal legislative agendas to support legislation that improves working conditions for port truck drivers and addresses related issues;
- Request city attorney to work with the California Labor Commissioner's and Attorney General's Offices to explore options to support regulatory enforcement efforts; and
- Request the Harbor and Tidelands Committee and the Long Beach Harbor Commission to hold hearings on the trucking crisis and misclassification of employees at the ports with the goal of finding solutions that protect the Port of Long Beach's proprietary interests.
During the council meeting, Garcia highlighted the economic importance of the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports to the city and the nation. According to Garcia, about 40 percent of all American goods come in and out of the two ports.
Despite the increased prosperity of the ports in the last few years, Garcia said there is still one glaring, unresolved issue: the trucking system.
“The current trucking system that we have, quite frankly, is unsustainable,” Garcia said. “We have long wait times that force truckers to work long hours and limits their ability to make adequate number of trips per day to make a living. That also hurts those trying to get their goods from here across the country and certainly those trucking companies as well.”
The California Labor Commissioner has recently received more than 900 complaints regarding misclassification of port truckers. More than 500 claims have been upheld.
“I have walked with some of these truckers in response to the bad treatment,” said Councilman Roberto Uranga. “They’re like indentured servants, the way they’re treated. They’re asked to pay for things that the company should be paying. They’re asked to work hours that are impossible and difficult to meet and that get them tired. At the end of the day, their check is about a paltry sum that can barely sustain their families.”
More than a dozen residents spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting, all in support of defending port truck drivers. However, several commenters were not impressed with lawmakers’ actions, pointing out that this issue has been in discussion for more than a year with little to no action taken.
“We need you to use your authority to help us fix this broken system by banning companies that are breaking the law,” Gustavo Villa, a misclassified driver for NFI/California Cartage Express, told the Long Beach City Council. “It’s the only way to hold the retailers who are exploiting this broken system accountable.”
The motioned passed 9-0.
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